All Blacks Rugby Haka

For most non-Maori New Zealanders today, their knowledge of the Haka is perhaps limited to that most performed Haka called “Ka mate, Ka mate,” composed by Ngati Toa Chieftain Te Rauparaha around 1820. Many sports teams and individuals traveling from New Zealand overseas tend to have the haka “Ka mate” as part of their program. The sports team that has given the haka the greatest exposure overseas has been the All Blacks, who perform it before their matches. It has become a distinctive feature of the All Blacks.


According to Maori ethos, Tama-nui-to-ra, the Sun God, had two wives, Hine-raumati, the Summer maid, and Hine takurua, the Winter maid. The child born to him and Hine-raumati was Tane-rore, who is credited with the origin of the dance. Tane-rore is the trembling of the air as seen on hot summer days and represented by the quivering of the hands in the dance.

Haka is the generic name for all Maori dance. Today, haka is defined as that part of the Maori dance repertoire where the men are to the fore, with the women lending vocal support in the rear. Most haka seen today are haka taparahi, haka without weapons.

More than any aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance expresses the race’s passion, vigor, and identity. Haka is not merely a pastime of the Maori but was also a custom of high social importance in visitors’ welcoming and entertainment. Tribal reputation rose and fell on their ability to perform the haka (Hamana Mahuika)

Haka reflected the concerns and issues of the time, of defiance and protest, of factual occurrences and events at any given time.


The centrality of the haka within All Black rugby tradition is not a recent development. Since an 1888 tour by the “New Zealand Natives” led by Joseph Warbrick, the haka has been closely associated with New Zealand rugby. Its mystique has evolved with the fierce determination, commitment, and high-level skill that has been the hallmark of New Zealand’s National game.

The haka adds a unique component derived from the indigenous Maori of New Zealand, which aligns with the broader Polynesian cultures of the Pacific.

The All Blacks perform the haka with precision and intensity, underpinning the All Black approach.


The famous haka, Ka Mate Ka Mate, was composed by Ngati Toa Chieftain Te Rauparaha around 1820. The story of its composition is well known within the oral histories of Ngati Toa and Ngati Tuwharetoa, the two iwi (tribes) most associated with its origins.
During a time of conflict, Te Rauparaha was being pursued by warriors of a rival iwi and was hidden by Te Wharerangi of Tuwharetoa in a kumara (native sweet potato) pit, with Te Wharerangi’s wife Te Rangikoaea being directed to sit on top. Guided by their Tohunga (scholar/priest), the warriors searched for Te Rauparaha, and as they drew near, he muttered: “Ka Mate Ka Mate” (It is death, it is death). Concealed from the Tohunga by the spiritual powers of both food and the woman above, Te Rauparaha was not discovered, and as the searchers passed overhead, he muttered: “Ka ora Ka ora” (It is life, it is life). When the warriors finally departed Te Rauparaha was able to climb up out of the kumara pit chanting “Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru nana nei i tiki mai whaka whiti te ra”.

There are many interpretations of these words, and “tangata puhuruhuru” may refer to the hairy man (Te Wharerangi), but Ngati Toa oral tradition holds that Te Rauparaha was crediting the spiritual power of Te Rangikoaea as he ascended (Upane, Kaupane) from the darkness of the pit into the light of the sun (Whiti te ra! Hi!).

The New Zealand Native team performed Ka Mate on their long and arduous tour of 1888/89 and by the “Original” All Blacks in 1905.

Haka was traditionally performed before All Blacks matches outside New Zealand until 1986, when All Blacks Wayne “Buck” Shelford and Hika Reid were instrumental in introducing Ka Mate to matches in New Zealand from 1987 and ensuring that it was performed with precision and intensity that, on occasion, had been lacking in earlier years.


In August 2005, before the Tri-Nations Test match against South Africa at Carisbrook, the All Blacks performed for the first time ‘Kapa O Pango,’ a new haka for and about the All Blacks.

A year in the making, Kapa O Pango was written for the team by Derek Lardelli, an expert in tikanga Maori (Maori culture and customs) of the Ngati Porou iwi. Its words and actions celebrate the land of New Zealand, the silver fern, and its warriors in black. The name might be translated simply as ‘team in black’. Watch below as captain of the All Blacks. When Kapa O Pango was launched, Tana Umaga explained why it was added.

Rather than replace the traditional haka, Ka Mate, Kapa O Pango sits alongside it as a new addition to the All Blacks’ tradition. Kapa O Pango is performed from time to time at the team’s discretion.


Taringa whakarongo!
Kia rite! Kia rite! Kia mau!

Kia whakawhenua au i ahau!
Hi, aue! Hi!

Ko Aotearoa, e ngunguru nei!
Hi, au! Au! Aue, ha! Hi!

Ko kapa o pango, e ngunguru nei!
Hi, au! Au! Aue, ha! Hi!

I ahaha!

Ka tu te ihi-ihi

Ka tu te wanawana

Ki runga i te rangi, e tu iho nei, tu iho nei, hi!
Ponga ra!

Kapa o pango! Aue, hi!
Ponga ra!

Kapa o pango! Aue, hi!

Let me go back to my first gasp of breath
Let my life force return to the earth
It is New Zealand that thundersnow
And it is my time!
It is my moment!
The passion ignites!
This defines us as the All Blacks
And it is my time!
It is my moment!
The anticipation explodes!
Feel the power
Our dominance rises
Our supremacy emerges
To be placed on high
Silver fern!
All Blacks!
Silver fern!
All Blacks!
aue hi!

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